Distributed generation, smart homes (DR) and electric cars are going to be the dominant parts of the modern power system. That is the number of controlable elements of the power system is going to be imense, asking for an intelligent and affordable communication layer that guarantees a secure and reliable operation of this complex cyber-physical system, also known as the biggest machine on earth. The design of the cyber layer of this smart grid is still an open question. While many alternatives have been discussed in academia and industry in the recent years, the IEEE has identified the two main design options as:
- System-of-Systems (also known as microgrids)
The first option got a lot of traction due to strong drive from within the US as well as due to the application of such micro- or minigrids in remote locations without access to mains power. Microgrids can operate in islanded mode as well as synchronize with neighbouring microgrids or cells as well as upper layer systems (e.g. greater cells or transmission systems). This collaborative functioning with the option of islanded operation expresses great resilience and could potentially mean the end of large-scale blackouts and the connected threats.
The second concept is creating a smart grid with each device beeing connected to a central controler. Of course this system can be designed and implemented to the same level of reliability, but therefore it needs to overcome the inherent flaws of a centralized architecture. Also if the system (hypotetically) would allow the utilization of the standard internet connection of a houshold as a communication link for distributed energy assest, would the "Internet of Energy" be reliable enough to provide the basic underlying service of modern societies?
And furthermore, especially in the light of yesterdays "Internet breakdown", what is gonna happen in Europe with respect to the aforementioned smart grid designs?